Community raises thousands for one woman’s surgery costs

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The Western News


Editor’s Note: On Oct. 14, The Western News wrote about Amanda Barnes of Libby, who was born with a congenital heart disease and was scheduled for her third heart surgery on Nov. 5. Barnes has since had the surgery and is resting at home. Her coworkers at the Northwest Community Health Center have rallied to help her raise money for the cost of the surgery.


Almost $8,000 has been raised to help Libby resident Amanda Barnes, who came home from heart surgery on Nov. 7. 

Through selling T-shirts, buttons, having businesses donating hours worth of wages and through donations over the internet, Barnes said it’s amazing that she has so many people who care about her.

Barnes has not received her medical bill yet, and said she’s nervous to see how much it will be. Her expected overall medical cost ranges from $60,000 to $70,000, and Barnes’ friend, Joe Chopyak, said he wouldn’t be surprised if it were double that with recovery costs.

Barnes and her husband, Brian Barnes, have been dealing with medical costs for quite some time. Brian said that every time Barnes gets sick or has chest pains, they find themselves in the emergency room.

She expects to stay home for three weeks, but said it’s up to her doctors. Although she’s not working, on top of organizing fundraisers and benefits, her coworkers have donated vacation time to her during the time she needs to spend at home.

“It’s nice to know that I have so many people who have my back and care about me,” Barnes said. “I’m lucky to have these people in my life.”

Barnes said she’s been kept out of the loop on a lot of the fundraising activities and how much money has been raised. That’s how she wanted it, she said, still feeling it’s difficult for her to ask for money.

With her “work family” trying their best to take care of their medical expenses, Barnes said her actual family, her husband of eight years and two children, have been taking very good care of her.

“My husband has been amazing and my kids are happier that everyone is home,” Barnes said. “They’re very helpful.”

The businesses that have donated include NWCHC, Nobel Excavating, Dr. Sorensen’s office,  Kootenai Vision Center, NW Motorsports and Studio 3 10 Salon.

She’s also had many people stopping by to check on her, and bringing her dinner.

At 6 p.m. on Saturday the VFW will host a fundraiser with a meal, silent auction, live auction, and live music courtesy of Shauney Fisher. They will also be raffling off guns and have two logging trucks full of logs to auction off. Tickets can be purchased at the Northwest Community Health Center.

Cabinet Mountain Brewery is also hosting a “Brews for Benefits” on Dec. 1, where one dollar per beer will be donated to the cause.

“Mostly, I want to say thank you to everyone,” Barnes said. “This would have been a whole lot harder without the support of the community.”

Donations can still be made at

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